A brand is fundamentally a promise, both rational (quantitative) and emotional (qualitative). But a promise is only valid if delivered from a sound person, a solid individual. If a person keeps changing, or the promise keeps changing, then there is no value in either.
Building a brand that will stand the test of time should be a primary goal of every business owner. Back in 1997, just before the REAL coming of the Internet it was suggested that in the future building strong market positions was all about building companies with a strong personality and corporate soul. Well, that time is NOW!
Now, more than ever, is the time to differentiate, stand-out, and create a product or service offering which competes on factors over and above the traditional 4P’s marketing mix (Price, Product; Place; Promotion). As marketers we are used to the customer demanding more than simply the product, we realise that adding value is key.
Nearly 20 years since 1997 and the business leaders and companies who are really hitting their profit bootstraps are those who are embracing and building brands that are able to thrive and flourish within the realms of search, social and mobile. The winners of the future which is most definitely the now are the corporations who can handle, adapt to and encourage this fast-paced change, and implement strategies to create sustainable competitive advantage.
Let’s call it ‘Brand building in a digital age‘. When direct response Internet marketing can often take over and be all-consuming, it is too easy to forget the long term significance and importance of continuing to build the brand. This is a trap that many SME’s and large corporates fall into. Investing in the brand solely for short term gain and customer eyeballs/acquisition today/tomorrow.
One needs to continuously apply time, resource and investment to building an entity that will resonate with your customers and keep them coming back again and again — even when there’s no Twitter or Facebook deal or promotion to entice them! This approach takes courage and can only work when the strategy is driven from those at the very top. Employees targeted with constant improvements in sales, click-through rates, and conversion rates need to see that what happens this afternoon or tomorrow is not the be-all and end-all. Far from it.
Search engine optimisation (SEO), and digital agencies have often been culpable in the relentless pushing, pushing for short term immediate gains or improvements in client Google natural search rankings. Overly aggressive link building and spurious blog posting (amongst other tactics) have finally come home to roost for many agencies and clients with Google dishing out ranking penalties for Internet marketing practices which run contrary to it’s webmaster guidelines.
Without question in the future the most successful companies will create a reliable and lasting platform for themselves both online and offline. These companies will be consistent and have an ethos which pushes the organisation forward creating long-standing value with consumers over and above that offered by competitors.
Paul Brewster, March 2014